Evaluate the claim that conscience is the voice of God
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Evaluate the claim that the Conscience is the voice of God Conscience is something that is intrinsic to our everyday lives. The origin and role of the conscience is something that divides people and something that has been used to justify some very terrible acts, approaches to conscience vary, including numerous religions who claim that it is God given. This is the belief that either at conception God gave each person a conscience or that it is imparted to us at some stage to enable us to discern morally correct and incorrect actions. For some philosophers it is the actual voice of God that speaks to them through their conscience. Thomas Aquinas saw conscience as 'right reason'. For him, reason was central to the moral life and to understanding the differences between right and wrong. He did not agree that the conscience was an inner voice telling us what is right and what is wrong, he believed that it was 'reason making right decisions' and used correctly it helps us to understand what God sees as good and right. His belief was that people try to do good and avoid evil, called the Synderesis rule. In all situations our subconscious actions are to do good, however he said that due to faulty reasoning or weakness of will some people perform bad actions thinking that they are good, and therefore commit sinful acts (for example a man who commits adultery).
He also condemned people who claimed a wrong action was right and claim that their conscience told them so. Cardinal Newman agreed with Aquinas that the conscience is the ability to appreciate and apply moral principles; however this approach was more intuitive like Butler than rational like Aquinas. He believed that when someone is following their conscience they are to an extent following a divine law as given by God. When our conscience speaks to us, Newman believes that it is God's voice giving us moral direction and that it is more than just a sense of reason. He said that conscience foes not create truth, but it does detect truth that already exists. It is the responsibility of a person to intuitively decide what truth God is guiding them towards. So for Newman following conscience was following divine law and one that must be followed at all times. This can be seen in a statement that is attributed to him, 'I toast the Pope, but I toast conscience first' In opposition to these three scholars there are those who argue that the Conscience does not come directly from God. Sigmund Freud developed several theories concerning the human personality and how it deals with issues of conflict or disorder. He believed that conscience was the construct of the mind that sought to make sense of disorder and to deal with the conflict that guilt brought.
Gradually Fromm's perspectives on the conscience evolved and developed over the years and he began to develop another healthier perspective of conscience, this is what he called the humanistic conscience. He said that our conscience enables us to assess our success as a human being by evaluating our behaviour. Those three scholars all argue against the theory that our conscience is the voice of God, and is rather something developed and created by the society we live in. Theses theories perhaps explain why and how different cultures live by different values, surely if out conscience was God given we would all live by the same values. It can even be argued that there is no proof of any conscience existing, the conscience given by God seems almost like a tangible part of the human body, but there is no evidence for it. Surely it is more likely that we decide what is right and wrong using reason and our mind, not a tangible, God given 'substance'. In conclusion, I believe that our conscience is something that is heavily influenced by society. We learn from those around us and what we see as right and wrong develop through life experiences, I feel there cannot be a voice of God controlling what we do or even influencing what we do because there is obviously know universal way to react to every situation, even people of the same religion act differently so how can there be a God telling or advising us what to do? Dom Ansell 6PWL
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